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Briton goes missing in Afghanistan

A massive search is under way for a British soldier missing from his base in southern Afghanistan amid claims that he was killed in Taliban custody.

The serviceman disappeared from central Helmand Province in the early hours of Monday, the Ministry of Defence said.

The Taliban claimed that they captured the soldier during a firefight with foreign troops in the Babaji district of Helmand and he died in crossfire shortly afterwards.

This version of events could not be independently verified and Nato said there were no reports of a battle in the area. The Taliban often make exaggerated claims about victories over coalition forces for propaganda purposes.

Details about what happened to the British soldier were sketchy, with one report suggesting he left the checkpoint where he was stationed to go swimming with Afghan soldiers.

It is understood that the search for the missing serviceman is being carried out both on the ground and from the air.

The MoD said in a statement: "A British serviceman is missing in Afghanistan. An extensive operation to locate him is under way.

"The individual was based in central Helmand and was reported missing in the early hours of this morning.

"His next of kin have been informed and they will be updated as the operation continues."

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